Like every other team currently taking part in the World Solar Challenge, an arduous 3,000 km solar-powered race across the Australian outback, the University of Michigan Solar Car Team will look to keep its car chugging along by exposing it to as much sunlight as possible. But the UM team has brought along a little piece of added technology it hopes will offer an edge. Developed by IBM, the solar forecasting system tracks the clouds moving overhead so the team knows where they need to be and when to draw maximum energy from the sun.
One of the challenges facing designers of traditional flat solar panels
is the fact that the sun doesn't conveniently stay in one place. This
means that in order for a panel to receive as much sunlight as possible,
it has to pan with the sun as it moves across the sky. While
there are motorized assemblies designed to do just that, they add
complexity, weight and expense to photovoltaic systems. Now, however,
University of Michigan scientists have developed a simpler alternative –
and it's based on the ancient Japanese cut-paper art of kirigami.
As the movies have shown us, space travel is an intimidating prospect, what with the possibilities of running out of air, the rocket engines conking out, or the shipboard computer deciding to bump off the crew. Another danger is fast-flying orbital debris piercing the hull. Scientists may be on their way to a solution to that one, however, in the form of a new self-healing material.
Mcity at the University of Michigan is defined by over 28 acres (11
hectares) of fake buildings, purposefully defaced road signs, and
pedestrians pointedly standing in roadways. While this could tax any
human driver, the Mcity simulation is designed to test the university's
fleet of connected and autonomous vehicles as they interact with an
everchanging research facility that's the first of its kind.
As 3D printing techniques improve and the push towards autonomous cars grows stronger, it was only a matter of time before the two technologies were combined to create an autonomous 3D-printed car. That’s exactly what Local Motors has done, putting together an autonomous car to be tested by the boffins at University of Michigan as part of a 12 month trial.
A team of MIT and University of Michigan researchers has a new method for manufacturing graphene that it believes could take the material out of the laboratory and into commercial products. The method involves forming the strong, conductive material in a chamber consisting of two concentric tubes.